Savannah & Tyler Yates
March 7, 2008 - April 13, 2008
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Susan Bird Winburn left her five week old twins with their father while she went to work on April 13, 2008. When she returned to get them, she could not get an answer at the door. She left, thinking he had taken the children and gone some where. When she returned once again, she noticed that the television and a gas fireplace were both on and she got a little scared, since she knew he was an alcoholic.

Susan called the police and they were able to get a response from David Yates, with Susan in the house and he told them that he had dropped the children off at a friends house. This statement was made right before the  twins were found. Susan knew that David had an alcohol problem and that he was under the care of a psychiatrist and taking medication to control mental disorders. In addition to this information, Susan knew that David had been charged with beating her while she was pregnant with their twin children, those charges were dropped by the prosecuting attorney, Kevin Calkins. He was also suspected of trying to have Susan killed while she was pregnant. David had been reported to have been violent in other relationships. Susan said:

 “If I had thought the kids weren't safe with David I would not have had them there"

Susan wasn't known for making the best choices in her life. In 2002, she and John Winburn were arrested on multiple drug dealing charges and they had involved a 16 year old foster child in their dealings. A 17 year old boy was questioned by police after being found with drugs and that lead to a search of her home which turned up bags containing marijuana and an electronic scale. John was convicted of selling to a 15 year old minor who was in the house and Susan was convicted of selling marijuana to the 17 year old. Charges that they had used the 16 year old foster child to sell drugs, were dismissed.

Susan had two other children who were four and six at that time. She said that she only left the twins with their father when she had to work and if she had known he could hurt them, she never would have left them there. David had plead guilty to one count of misdemeanor domestic abuse in February and was convicted. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail, though that sentence was withheld, for jamming a finger into Susan's eye, slapping her, pushing her onto the couch and grabbing her throat.

David was getting counseling as part of his plea agreement, he had never shown any signs of abuse towards Susan's other children during the three years they had been dating.

Gib Bird, Susan's father, said that the twins had been born six weeks early, but, they seemed to be developing properly and they appeared to be well cared for. He said that Savannah had just begun to smile and that Tyler was becoming more alert:

"Susan and her boys loved those kids. They were precious to all of us"

  

Savannah and Tyler were the second set of twins Susan had been pregnant with, that would die. Twins born to her in the late 90's were 14 weeks early and died of natural causes at nine days old. Gib said that he had little contact with Susan and that their relationship over the years had been an up and down thing.

An autopsy performed on Tyler and Savannah showed that both of the twins died of intentional, massive injuries. Pathologist Robert Corliss said the cause of death was blunt force trauma to their little heads. The head and chest injuries they suffered could only have been ruled an accident if they had been in a car accident where the car had rolled several times. Robert Corliss also said that the injuries to the babies were consistent with someone holding them by their chests and striking them against something hard.

In July of 2005, David Yates appeared in court with his lawyer, Paul Polacek, through video, where the deaths of Tyler and Savannah were ruled to have NOT been accidents. A Pathologist said that the injuries they suffered to their heads and chests were not accidents, during the preliminary hearing. Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett presented evidence that David should go on trial for two counts of first degree murder.

Mike Pichler testified that a search of the house lead to finding the two babies under the bed, nearly lying on top of each other. Mike had seen a tiny foot just outside the dust ruffle on the bed and when he bent down and touched the foot, it was cold.

   

Tyler                                 Savannah

Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett said that Tyler and Savannah died of blunt force trauma after being hit into or against something hard. Savannah suffered five different traumas from the hits. She had a skull fracture and contusions over her body. Tyler had suffered three areas of head trauma, a fractured skull, broken ribs, bruising on his heard, bleeding in his lungs and a foot injury. While she didn't specify HOW he had injured the babies, she did say that she was confident the injuries were inflicted upon them by David Yates. A door was taken from his home, as evidence and Patricia Barrett wouldn't say why. She also said she was waiting for autopsy results to know exactly when the babies had died.

After spending two nights in St. Clare Hospital for an unnamed medical condition, David Yates was sent  to jail. Patricia Barrett had requested a $1 million dollar bond be set since David had convictions for domestic battery, carrying a concealed weapon and bail jumping.

"We have been advised that he has frequently spoken to Winbun of leaving the United States, 
going to the Caribbean and selling time shares," 

Paul Polacek informed the judge that David was unable to pay $1 million dollars and asked for a reduction to $10,000. from Judge Guy Reynolds, that request was denied. David would have to wear an electronic tracking bracelet on his ankle and check in daily with the Sheriff's department. The judge also ordered that David surrender his passport and not have contact with children under the age of 16.

Before the hearing started, Paul Polacek has requested that the court make sure that David would receive his prescription behavioral health medications, claiming that earlier that week he had not received it and his mental condition had deteriorated. After he received medication, Paul Polacek said he saw a difference:

"a marked improvement in his understanding of what 
I'm saying and he does understand his rights."

David Yates has been arrested since the deaths of his children, on unrelated parole violations. He was sentenced to three years in prison for those charges. The trial for his double homicide of Tyler and Savannah will begin in February of 2009. Baraboo Patrol Officer Mike Pichler testified that he had been called to the home of David Yates after the mother of the twins called and said he would not answer the door.


Updates:

On July 29, 2008, David Yates, who was 46 years old, plead not guilty to the charges that he had killed his children. David was held over on $1. million dollars bond.

In November of 2008 it was announced that the prosecutor wanted to be able to use a witness who said she could testify that David Yates had tried to hire someone to "take out" Susan while she was pregnant. District Attorney Patricia Barrett also asked the court to allow at least seven witnesses who could testify about the violent and drug related past of David. 

At least two doctors and one nurse practitioner are expected to testify about how David had overdosed on his medications and had also mixed them. David was taking medications for mental heath issues.

On January 6, 2009, David Yates allowed his lawyer to withdraw from the case because he didn't want to plead insanity to the charges of first degree intentional homicide. The trial was supposed to start in February and has now been delayed until June 20, 2009.

On January 22, 2009, David got a new lawyer, David Geier. His trial date was left for June 20, 2009 and it is expected to last for about two weeks.

Thank you to Hayley for sending me the following update.

October 20, 2010

Yates Found Guilty, Sentenced To Life

A Baraboo courtroom broke out in expressions of joy, sobbing and hugs Tuesday as a judge sentenced David R. Yates to two consecutive life sentences for killing his twin infants. Yates has no hope of parole.

A jury imported from Portage County found Yates guilty on two counts of intentional homicide Tuesday morning after only a few hours of deliberation. Judge James Evenson later sentenced Yates to life in prison.

Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett charged Yates, 48, of Baraboo, with murder after his children, 5-week-old Savannah and Tyler Yates, were found battered to death in their father's Lake Street condo on April 13, 2008.

Over 10 days of testimony Yates' attorney, John M. Brinckman of Onalaska, tried to pin the crime on the children's mother, Susan Winbun. Brinckman argued Winbun could have drugged Yates with his own prescription anti-depressant, then killed the children herself sometime after midnight, likely with the help of a male accomplice.

Late Monday afternoon the case went to the jury. By 9 a.m. Tuesday, the panel had found Yates guilty of both counts.

During a sentencing hearing an hour later, Winbun's adopted daughter Betsy Sullivan addressed the court. "Tyler and Savannah were with us for five weeks and they were beautiful, beautiful angels," she told Yates as he glared at her. "I'm glad you're getting what you deserve, because Tyler and Savannah did not deserve what you gave them."

Winbun pleaded for Yates to admit his crime and said she hopes eventually to forgive him.

"Just because you're forgiven doesn't mean you shouldn't be punished," she said. "Judge Evenson, for what he's done to my family ... he deserves nothing less than life in prison."

Barrett asked the judge to impose life prison terms for each child consecutively, with Yates' earliest opportunity to apply for supervised release in 80 years. She said the rage he demonstrated in killing the children was "terrifying.

"I believe the public has every reason to assume that this court will protect all others from David Yates," Barrett said.

Given his chance to speak, Yates insisted he was innocent.

He pointed to problems with trial evidence, such as a Baraboo police detective destroying a smudged fingerprint while collecting DNA from Yates' cell phone. Though the judge ruled the detective acted properly, Yates said it was the sort of thing that would eventually have the guilty verdicts overturned.

"I did not murder my children," he said. "I think the jury made a decision based on what they were shown and what they saw and what they heard."

Evenson rejected Yates' assertion of innocence. He pointed to the pathologists' report that Tyler was killed as long as two hours before his sister.

"Two young, innocent, helpless individuals were essentially battered to death," he said. "It was in no way accidental.

"What occurred here over a period of time was two calculated motions that took the lives of these two children."

Winbun sobbed and hugged friends as Evenson ordered that Yates serve two terms of life in prison consecutively with no option to apply for early release.

Winbun had little comment as she gathered with friends outside the courthouse, only saying she was satisfied.

Asked how she felt about spending more than two years prosecuting Yates and more than two weeks in court at trial, Barrett passed it all off as doing her duty.

"Justice has been served," she said.

Thank you to Susan for sending me some corrections that needed to be made.

Death Occurred in the state of Wisconsin

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